Welcome to the Weekly Binge, where we take a closer look at the shows that are worth your time. This week, we meet up with Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham) and her trio of Brooklynite girlfriends as they try to make sense of life and love in New York City. Here’s what you’ll need to know before you hang out with HBO’s Girls.
What’s the premise? Four twenty-something female friends navigate life and all it throws at them while living in the Big Apple.
What’s it like? Not only does series creator Lena Dunham star in and write for the show, but she’s also Executive Producer alongside Judd Apatow, and you know what that means: crazy shenanigans. It’s a dramatic “girl” version of what Apatow does best, namely ridiculous — and at times, heartfelt — comedy. Take the ensemble cast of something like Sex and the City and add the realistic drama of My So-Called Life with a pinch of Awkward‘s smart comedy and voilá!
Where can I see it? Season 3 begins this Sunday January 12, 2014 on HBO. The next day, episodes are available on HBO Go for subscribing customers, as well as HBO.com, iTunes, Vudu and Amazon. Past seasons are available on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, and on DVD from Netflix.
How long will it take? With 2 seasons under its belt at 30 minutes a pop and only 10 episodes per season, this show can be cranked out in no time. A weekend is all you really need to cram this gem in. You could even destroy it in one day if you have 10 hours to kill. If you choose to watch more conservatively, it shouldn’t take more than a week at most.
What do the critics think? Seasons one and two are both certified fresh at 95 percent and 93 percent, respectively, and most of the critics agree that Lena Dunham’s talent is impressive. Matt Roush of TV Guide says, “Girls is the sort of authentic original you dream of discovering, and once you do, you can’t wait for everyone else to discover it,” while James Poniewozik of TIME Magazine claims, “It’s raw, audacious, nuanced and richly, often excruciatingly funny.”
Why should I watch this? The sheer genius that is Lena Dunham — enough said. But seriously, for one person to executive produce, write, and star in a show is almost reason enough to give it a chance to win you over. And don’t expect the series to be all sappy and lovey-dovey just because the main cast is four chicks, either; this show is more true to life than that. It’s a coming-of-age story with a comedic, sometimes dramatic undertone, and you’ll almost certainly catch yourself thinking you know someone just like Hannah, Marnie, Jessa, or Shoshanna. And then there’s Judd Apatow. Plenty of people — guys and girls alike — love his films, so with his contributions helping to fuel the series, you’ll be hard-pressed not to enjoy at least parts of it.
What’s my next step? Dunham wears almost all the hats behind the scenes, and she drew from her own real life experiences as she poured her blood, sweat, and tears into Girls. Apatow has said that he was enticed by Dunham’s imagination and the insight her vision of realistic females could bring to men. Often compared to the similar set up of another HBO show about four women in NYC, Lena says that Girls represents the part of our population that Sex and the City left out. For more of Dunham’s unique perspective, you can start with her second film Tiny Furniture, which was what caught Judd Apatow’s attention in the first place, and for a similar take on a single girl’s life in NYC, Noah Baumbach’s latest effort, Frances Ha, will do nicely (the latter also features Girls‘ Adam Driver). If it’s a female-centric coming-of-age story you’re looking for, Now and Then and Clueless are worth a look. As for TV shows with this same sort-of set up, there’s always Sex and the City as mentioned above, but if you’re looking for something a little more raw, try Orange is the New Black or the new show Looking, which debuts on HBO January 19, 2014 at 10:30pm, right after new episodes of Girls.